I have moved!

Hi everyone,

I have been totally absent from tumblr for a little while and the reason for this is that I have been working on a website. Still a work in progress but it is alive, alive!

So pay me a visit on www.floyoga.co.uk

All information is now centralised on the site: schedule, retreats, workshops and this blog.

See you there!

WALKING THE LINES

Yep, I did this! And nope, I can’t draw…

When turning up to a yoga class, you have probably heard instructions such as: “Bring your front knee directly above your ankle, turn your back foot in, gently draw your navel in and up and reach through your fingers to send some energy in your arms while keeping your shoulders down.” Phew, quite a mission and this is just for Warrior I! And not to freak you out or anything but a lot more could be said on this one pose. Just pop to an Iyengar class if you need to be convinced!

So are your instructors totally OCD? Well, that is a possibility but the detailed information provided are for our own good. Improper alignment can put strain on disks, muscles, tendons and ligaments while correct alignment will bring strength and promote flexibility in a more harmonious body.

Instructions on alignment are therefore essential for a safe and beneficial practice on a physiological level and also to get to what we could call the core of a pose. Once you have gained a good understanding of a pose through guidance and experience, a sense of ease starts to sink in. An obvious example would be slumping when in a seated position (possibly the result of tightness in the back and/or hips), shoulders hunched, caving in the chest. When seated in such a way, the lumbar disks are put under strain, the organs get compressed as well as the lungs which makes it more difficult to breathe. The moment we can sit up with our spine erect and relax the shoulders, we are creating more space for our breath to expand, allowing prana or life force to be more evenly distributed; a sense of stillness settles in.

Instructions on alignment tend to become more detailed as you progress into your practice and become more tuned in with your body. For beginners though, I believe that instructions should be kept simple for fear of putting them off by creating a brain overload and/or confusion. It is also important to give practitioners encouragement especially for first-timers who might get a bit of a shock when they realise their limited range of motion or strength. Being present everywhere and simultaneously into every cell of our body is a challenge and does not come easily. You might focus so much on the alignment of your front knee in Warrior I for instance that you forget about pressing the back foot flat onto your mat. Typically, we tend to neglect what we cannot see: “Out of sight, out of mind” as the saying goes. 

But don’t let any setbacks unsettle you. Our practice is a lifelong journey and we are not travelling alone. Your teachers will keep helping you along the way and more and more often, you will come across these wonderful moments where everything makes sense. All the hours spent on the mat end up refining the intelligence of the body. You will “think” less with your mind and more with your body, allowing spaciousness, intuition, well-being, contentment and a sense of union to permeate your entire being which yoga has been designed to bring to humanity as a whole.

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HANDS AND FOREARM BALANCING WORKSHOP - 17/05/14 -

Dear yoga practitioners,

In this workshop, I would like to deepen with you a category of poses which at first glance, can either be awe-inspiring or terrifying depending on where you are at in your practice! I can still remember the first time I saw my teacher gracefully lifting herself into Crow; I experienced these feelings all at once.

To explore these poses, a sense of curiosity and play are essential, and of course, no wrist injuries! It is also important to keep in mind that in the same way that balancing on one foot can prove difficult (on some days, my Tree Pose has to be renamed the Shaaaaa-ky Treeeee), hands and forearm balances require patience, determination and is a process of trials and errors.

We will prepare for these more challenging poses through vinyasa flow sequences and will experiment with variations of Bakasana (or Crow), Astavakrasana (Eight-Angle Pose), Koundinyasana I and II, Eka Pada Gavalasana (Flying Pigeon) and a few more… Surprise!

This workshop is open to intermediate and advanced practitioners and will be limited to 16 people.

Bookings are taken directly taken by Embody Wellness.

When: Saturday 17th May, 15.00-17.30.

Where: Embody Wellness Studio

St George Wharf, Vauxhall, SW8 2LE

Tel: 020 7099 0048

http://www.embodywellness.co.uk/events.html

Cost: £30

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Flo :-)

Eka Pada Koundinyasana II (Pose dedicated to the sage Koundinyasa)

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Quote of the Day

Borrowed from the Paul Smith exhibition at the Design Museum.

Every day offers us with an opportunity to reinvent and free ourselves!

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MATCH YOUR PRACTICE TO YOUR MOOD!

Some of you might flinch when reading this title and think “Yoga is not a fashion accessory, thank you very much!” and you are certainly right but what I am trying to hint at is the necessity for less rigidity in our practice in general.

Some of you might have fallen in love with more structured styles of yoga such as Ashtanga or Bikram; some of you might enjoy the mind-boggling sequences of Dharma Mittra yoga or you might be used to practicing solely Vinyasa Flow or Hatha yoga. All these various styles have their place and there is not need to make one sound superior to the others. They have all found a following and respond to the various needs of various personalities. 

While a regular practice of our choice is essential to build our willpower and bring about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits, it is important to remember to listen to our bodies and our intuition. 

On the days when you feel a bit low, despondent or unwell, it can be really nice to focus on simple breathing exercises and nurturing poses since a challenging set of sequences would only aggravate your mood and leave you feeling exhausted. During these times, coming back to basics can truly feel wonderful, especially for more seasoned practitioners who are used to work mostly on advanced poses. So when low energy or moral comes to pay you a visit, swapping your intensive practice for a restorative session is likely to give birth to a renewed sense of appreciation toward yourself and a delicious feeling of serenity.

When the opposite happens - you are wired up, angry or frustrated - why not let some steam out with a dynamic practice? Use this raw and primal energy to fuel your determination and transform it through focussing on an object: your body in asanas in conjunction with your breath. Your mind might put up a fight at first but as you persevere, it will soon feel less and less agitated and clarity of mind will replace confusion. Channelled in the right way, this energy can be a source of positive changes but if it has no outlet, it tends to lash out in all directions and can be pretty destructive to yourself and the people around you.

Then again on some days, you might be in a more contemplative, studious mood, so you could make your physical practice a little shorter - unless you have lots of time and are able to just add on to it! - and read an inspiring text or article, then take the time to reflect on it. You could also decide to devote more time to meditation, finding a comfortable sit and using a technique which works for you.

Anyway, you get the gist and the options available are endless. So let’s allow our practice to be more organic and expand beyond our habitual set-up. We will find more freedom and get our creativity to blossom in the process. After all, everything is yoga!

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Samoëns Yoga Retreat, 2nd-7th September 2014 

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Dear yogis and yoginis,

I have the pleasure to announce a new yoga retreat for the year 2014!

Following the success of the Puglia retreat (which is now sold out), I have decided to add an alpine yoga getaway - just in case some of you missed out!

We will spend 5 days at La Ferme du Ciel, a luxurious chalet near the village of Samoëns in the French Alps. All the rooms are en-suite, and we will also have access to the outdoor pool, jacuzzi and indoor sauna.

Take a peek at photos on the website: www.fermeduciel.com

We will be driven to yoga sessions, which will take place nearby at The Dojo, a spacious studio just 5 minutes from the chalet.

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The Program

Arriving on Tuesday 2nd September in the morning, departing on Sunday 7th midday.

We will be holding morning and evening sessions totalling 9 sessions. Also INCLUDED is a trip to la Cascade du Rouget, a stunningly beautiful mountain waterfall. We will also take a full-day hike with a fully-qualified local guide - making sure we get the most out of our alpine location!

Morning sessions are 7:15 - 9:15, and will include breathing exercises, meditation and asana practice - dynamic and restorative -. After breakfast and free time back at La Ferme du Ciel, lunch will be served around 13:00 (with the exception of the hiking day, which also includes a packed lunch). Evening sessions are 17:30 - 19:30 followed by dinner.

Massage therapists available - description and fees available on arrival.

All meals provided will be vegetarian, cooked by the lovely Michele Willmott, who will also be on hand for life-coaching sessions for those who are interested. More info here http://inspired-4-life.com/coaching/inspired-coaches/

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Staying at La Ferme du ciel

La Ferme du ciel has 5 bedrooms as well as an apartment and all but one bedroom are available on a shared option basis. Only one single occupancy option possible!

The prices below are per person and include accommodation, all meals, 9 yoga sessions, a trip to La Cascade du Rouget and a full day hike, airport transfers from/to Geneva airport to the venue and all other transfers.

Single occupancy: £835

Shared occupancy: £735

Spaces are limited to 11 and availability of the rooms will be on a first come-first served basis.

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Travel

Geneva is the closest airport to Samoëns; and there are over 26 flights per day from London to Geneva.

Once you have reserved your space, please do not book your flights until I can advise you on which ones to book. The airport is an hour’s drive away from La Ferme du ciel and for this reason, I will coordinate the group to facilitate our transfers.

To secure your space, please drop me a mail at floyoga.mail@gmail.com.

A £350 deposit will be required on booking. The remaining amount will be due in full by 20th June 2014.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get hold of me.

I look forward to welcoming you in the Alps!

Namaste,

Flo :-)

Timetable 2014

Hi everyone,

We are one day away from 2014 and I thought I would update you on my timetable for this start of the year.

Regular classes:

- Monday  

19.15-20.00 Gym Box Bank

- Tuesday

7.30-8.30 (New Time!) Embody Wellness, Vauxhall

10.15-11.45 Virgin Active Ealing

18.00-19.00 Virgin Active Strand

- Wednesday

18.00-19.00 Nuffield Health Paddington

- Thursday

13.00-14.30 Virgin Active Ealing

18.30-20.00: Celestine Eleven 4 Hollywell Lane, EC2A 3ET

Part of the Secret Yoga Club: www.secretyogaclub.co.uk

- Friday

7.45-8.45 Fitness First Tottenham Court Rd

15.30-17.00 Embody Wellness, Vauxhall

- Saturday

11.00-12.00 Nuffield Health Paddington 

I will also be holding a Cleansing and Rejuvenating workshop on Saturday 18th January at Embody Wellness, 15.00-17.30. You will find everything you need to know on here: 

Et voilà!

More importantly, I wish you a wonderful year 2014! Always a good time to wake up to what is of value to us and to discard what has become obsolete and irrelevant.

Very best wishes and see you on the other side ;-)

Flo xx

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Of Women and Laws

Today I had the privilege to attend a talk on violence against women as part of a two-days event organised by The Thomson Reuters foundation. 
The Trust Women Conference saw the gathering of people at the forefront of the issue worldwide: lawyers, members of NGOs, human rights activists, documentary film makers, politicians and journalists. 

In a short clip, figures on rapes, domestic violence and prosecutions in South Africa, India, the UK and the United States, flashed on the screen, each of them reinforcing the harsh reality faced by too many women often too vulnerable and legally powerless to get their assailants convicted.

Such is the heart-wrenching story of Banaz, narrated to us by Deeyah Khan, a musician and documentary film director (pictured below), who won several awards for her documentary “Banaz - a love story”.

Banaz moved from Kurdistan to the UK with her parents at the age of 8. Aged 17, she was married to a man her uncle and parents had chosen for her and she had to comply. Her husband was abusive. He raped and beat her and when Banaz turned to her family for help, they instructed her to be a better wife to her husband.

Banaz eventually left her husband which “brought shame” on her relatives who after a family council made the decision to murder her. Although fearing for her safety, Banaz, having no support and nowhere to go, stayed at her parents’ home where her dad tried to kill her. She managed to find refuge in a nearby cafe and called the police who came to the conclusion that she was being dramatic.

The next murder attempt on Banaz was sadly successful. One night, a gang of three men commissioned by her relatives entered her house, murdered her in horrendous circumstances and dumped her body in a suitcase.

Over her lifetime, Banaz went to the police 5 times and they failed on 5 accounts to take her plea seriously. While she was unheard while alive, her case was investigated and led to the conviction of her murderers which is an important step.

There are many more girls and young women facing violence from their family and community. The “honour killings” are not a new phenomenon and they need to be addressed with all the force of law and also through better education of children and teenagers at school, and of any members of staff who is susceptible to come across victims: the police, nurses and doctors, teachers and so on.

Only through education, easy access to information and a framework of laws will mentalities start to change worldwide. 

Barbaric secular “traditions” do not have their place in any community of any kind and need to be abandoned in favour of a valorisation and emancipation of women. A human being inflicting suffering onto another being, abuse and exploitation, never was acceptable and never will be.

Deeyah Khan - picture from http://www.trustwomenconf.com -